Take a coastal walk, meet blue crabs, starfish and corals in Mumbai this weekend

Marine enthusiast Pradip Patade and iNaturewatch Foundation are organising a series of marine biodiversity walks. Here’s how you can join in.

mumbai Updated: May 27, 2017 10:15 IST
Anesha George
Anesha George
Hindustan Times
Marine Biodiversity Walk,Pradip Patade,Mumbai’s shorelines
The Blue Button (porpita porpita), a colony of hydroids, spotted on the Haji Ali shore.(.)
Marine Biodiversity Walk
  • Where: Girgaum Chowpatty
  • When: Sunday, May 28
  • Time: 7 am to 9 am
  • Cost: Rs 250 for adults, Rs 150 for children and senior citizens
  • WhatsApp: iNaturewatch Foundation on 99870-13144

When Pradip Patade, 50, quit his job in human resources seven years ago, it was to take more walks along the sea shore. Patade, a self-taught marine enthusiast had already been exploring Mumbai’s shorelines for 25 years at the time. “My walks were all about looking for vibrant corals, colourful crabs and varieties of sea slugs that I never knew existed, my job became too mundane,” he says, laughing.

In his enthusiasm to stay close to the coast, Patade took up teaching kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boating and dragon-boat racing for a water sports company. “I have been observing some exquisite sea creatures off the coasts of Nariman Point, Girgaum Chowpatty, Walkeshwar and Napean Sea Road and managed to document two rare species – the orange sea fan (Gorgonian fan) and the pipe fish that belongs to the sea horse family,” says Patade.”

In April, Patade, along with marine biologist Abhishek Jamalabad, 26, and Siddharth Chakravarty, 34, an independent researcher in industrial fisheries, started the Facebook page Marine Life of Mumbai. It’s a community for those who share their passion for marine life. They also organise monthly walks along the city’s coastline and encourage attendees to contribute their images to the page, to build a repository of Mumbai’s coastal biodiversity.

iNaturewatch Foundation, a city-based charitable trust, is also organising a shoreline walk this Sunday, with Patade leading the team. Registrations are open but if you’d prefer to go on an exploratory mission of your own and don’t know where to begin, here are some ways to start.

Siddharth Chakravarty, 34, an independent researcher in industrial fisheries, self-taught marine conservationist Pradip Patade, and marine biologist Abhishek Jamalabad have co-founded the group Marine Life of Mumbai.

Time and tide wait for no one:Take a walk only during low tide, because that is when the intertidal zone opens up and the sea creatures wash up on the shore.

Be Sherlock: Flip rocks over, all the interesting creatures are literally, living under them. “We found three types of crabs and shrimps by looking into nooks and corners and under rocks,” says Chakravarty.

Crab hunt: Among the more common yet interesting sea creatures are crabs, and Mumbai coasts have around 40 varieties of them. Go looking for the colourful decorator crab, or the blue swimmer crab.

Petrolisthes, a type of marine porcelain crab, is among the 40 varieties you can spot on Mumbai’s shores. (Abhishek Jamalabad)

Slug it out: If you thought slugs aren’t pretty, you haven’t seen the nudibranch. “They are usually found on rocky outcrops where there is thick coral outgrowth. We found one at Girgaum Chowpatty,”says Chakravarty.

Don’t stub your toe: Wear closed footwear with a good grip, because you are likely to go to slippery places with molluscs and barnacles.

Cut down on sunscreen: Sunscreen is good for you, but not for marine life. “Most sunscreens leave an oily film when you put your hand into rock pools that can affect the marine life there, so ensure you don’t apply it beyond your elbows,” adds Chakravarty.

Starfish or Sea Stars are regularly seen in the tide pools at Marine Drive. (Photo: Marine Life of Mumbai)

First Published: May 27, 2017 10:13 IST